Stop Springtime Sadness: 3 Ways to Increase Your Serotonin
Just as the outside temperature is increasing, so is the body’s internal temperature. During this period of adaptation, the neurotransmitter serotonin increases its production. It’s one of the major mood neurotransmitters in our brains. Simply, when serotonin levels are low, we’re more depressed, and when they’re high, we’re happier. This is why antidepressants that raise serotonin levels can help people diagnosed with depression.
Some symptoms of low serotonin levels include depression, low self-esteem, irritability, OCD, anxiety, and panic attacks. Studies have suggested that low levels of serotonin directly affect Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), partly because there is not enough serotonin to convert to the sleep substance, melatonin. Researchers found that regardless of the season, the serotonin levels in the brain are directly affected by the amount of sunlight with higher levels on bright days than on overcast or cloudy days. In fact, the rate of serotonin production in the brain was directly related to the duration of bright sunlight.
Vitamin D, received from the sun, helps encourage serotonin production and release. If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, sit in the sun for 20 minutes, depending on your skin tone levels. Be careful not of getting burnt and watch for skin cancer warnings. Taking a supplement may help reduce symptoms related to low serotonin levels, but check with your doctor before beginning supplementation.
Serotonin levels are key to maintaining balanced mental and physical health. The following foods have the highest concentrations of serotonin. Eating these should help during this transition process:
milk (grass-fed is best)
eggs (cage-free is best)
meat (grass-fed is best)
Exercise plays a key role in anxiety and depression as well. Slow meditative walks for 15-20 minutes can boost our mood and help deal with stress. Get your exercise outdoors to increase your serotonin twice as fast. Massage and acupuncture are excellent natural modalities to help with depression and anxiety.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Major depression is defined as a severely depressed mood that goes on for two weeks or more, interfering with a person’s daily functions.” Depression is a serious disability. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please get them help.
About the Author:Tournesol Wellness is an integrative health center dedicated to the design and delivery of high impact holistic interventions empowering people to realize their full potential. Based in NYC, Tournesol provides the finest integrative care through its 40 vetted specialists and more than 30 modalities. For further information email Tournesol Founder, Carey Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quinoa: We’re Nutzo For This Sexy Food!
QUINOA, you make me go nutzo: You’re sexy, lean, mean, tasty, so versatile and a complete protein!? Quinoa, if you were a guy, you’d be like David Zinczenko meets Johnny Knoxville meets Channing Tatum.. aka my droolfest, dream man. Read along and learn about this powerful super sexy food!
Pronounced KEEN-Wah, this “sexy food” is always on my plate and at my dinner parties without any hesitation. Quinoa is definitely my wingman to staying fab, healthy and sexy! I often refer to it as “ Nature’s Couscous”, because most people cannot tell the two apart just by first glance or consistency. That’s where I’m trying to convince you to convert to quinoa.
Quinoa is a grain-like seed that contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein, meaning it’s a great source of protein for vegetarians. Guess what? Your boring plate of couscous (which is pasta! Duh!) is NOT a complete protein. Quinoa can also help the body absorb more nutrients with the help from its natural minerals, potassium and manganese.
With the same texture, consistency and visuals as couscous, and more nutrients, packed with protein and it’s gluten free…I’m not even going to assume that you will look at couscous ever again, right? It’s no wonder that quinoa is regarded as the “Gold of the Incas”; it’s pure sexy!
Word up xx♥ck
Need Spring In Your Step? Tips To Overcome Weariness
During the change of winter to spring, most of the days I am filled with energy and excitement, the light sparks me up and I can almost smell the freeing summer breeze in the air. And then out of the bloom there comes a few odd days here an there, when I feel like crawling back to bed when the day is just at its brightest. That is a seasonal phenomenon called the ‘spring weariness’. I’ve started to wonder why does this occur…
It can of course be an ancient remain that we’ve just dragged in today. In the past the time of spring meant that most of the carefully stored winter food stock had run out and people were nutritionally deficient and not in their best vitality. In today’s lifestyle this can mean that we’ve made it through the heavy and stressful winter by eating lots of sugar and unhealthy snacks to keep us going and not necessarily taken the best care of ourselves (exercise, outdoor activities, fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamin D, enough sleep and relaxation, joyful and light happenings, meditation and spiritual practices). I truly believe this can be the case with many people. As I trust that I’ve been taking quite good care of myself concerning those above topics, some other issues have risen for me to explain this occasional weary feeling. They are: 1) the natural stress of change, 2) overwhelmed feelings and high expectations.
We humans naturally resist change. It takes us time to adapt to new, especially with the power of seasonal change. The dark and cold gives sudden space to warmth and strong sun light. We are waking up after a long silent and slow way of living. The way of living in the winter and in the summer is truly like night and day.
By overwhelmed feelings and high expectations I mean our rising stress to get the most (=everything) out of the warm and light time, there is no ray of sun to be wasted! This might also be an instinct from our ancestors, but also something we’ve learned when growing up. Most of us can probably recall that whenever the sun was out you were not allowed to play inside but were quickly rushed out by your parents or care takers. We might have the similar approach and anxiety while thinking ahead and planning our summer vacations and building up expectations that it needs to be something extraordinary. And maybe we haven’t accomplished all the tasks or actions (in work, health, finances, cleaning and organizing etc.) that we were planning to have done by now. This stress creates tension that in the end wears us down and we just feel like sleeping.
Tips To Overcome Seasonal Weariness
1) Hydrate: Drink lots of pure water to keep you hydrated and alert, and to aid in digestion and detoxification
2) Sleep: Keep a regular sleep rhythm and sleep at least 7-8 hours a night
3) Eat Seasonally: Increase your in take of fresh fruits, vegetables and berries
4) Get out and about! Take as much time as possible to get in the nature. By doing this it makes you adapt faster to the changing season as you’re more in sync with nature. Have a long walk in the woods or go for a run by the sea. Or just enjoy the nature sounds by meditating 5 minutes on a rock.
5) Minerals: Be sure you get enough iron and other essential minerals as a deficiency can strongly contribute to your tiredness. The best way to increase high quality minerals in your diet is to boost your meals with green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley etc.).
6) Cut Stimulants: Go easy on sugar and coffee. They will give you a great high – but even a stronger low after! They do not only mess with your blood sugar levels, but with your emotional balance as well.
7) Remember that where ever you are, it is the exact right spot to be in. You have no rush and whatever you need will be provided to you. The more you let life flow freely in and out, the more easy and enjoyable it will become.
8 ) Ask yourself: what would make you happy today? What ever it is, do your best to cultivate at least a small portion of this in your day.
Top Photo: Flickr
7 Ingredients for a Magical Winter
Winter is the perfect time to look inward, embrace the darkness, and check in with our bodies to be sure we are aligning with Mother Nature. The better you take care of yourself now, the better prepared you will be for the transformative, blossoming energy of Spring that is a few months away. As our Solstice gift to you, we’ve outlined our top 7 suggestions for appreciating the gifts of winter and tapping into your body’s magic!
1. Nourish your adrenal glands
Yes, yes, you’ve heard us say this many times before! If you haven’t before, now’s the time to listen As the deeply-wired stress-responsive glands and roots of your reproductive health, your adrenal glands need all the support they can get during any stressful time, but especially during the holidays and winter season. As the wisdom of Chinese Medicine tells us, the winter season is when our adrenals and kidneys are most dominant and open to support or damage – depending on how we treat them. Support your adrenal glands with proper nutrition for the season. Include sea vegetables, kidney beans, black sesame seeds, chestnuts, sardines, buckwheat, beets, and miso in your diet. Better yet, join us for the Post-Holiday Cleanse program which will outline everything for you.
2. Move your body
Even if you’re out of town for the holidays or stuck inside after a snowstorm, there are plenty of ways to stay active indoors. Start each morning with three sun salutations or download a yoga class off of YouTube. Let loose – turn up the radio and dance to your favorite music! And if you’re up for the outdoors, plan a date and go ice skating with your friends, family or lover.
3. Think before you choose hot drinks
While it can be tempting to grab a gingerbread latte or mocha as refuge from the cold, beware of energy-zapping effect these caffeinated, sugary beverages can have on your adrenals over the long term. Instead, there are plenty of ways to get creative with your hot drink options while still being kind to your body. Spice up your herbal tea and get more antioxidants by adding a handful of dried goji berries in the cup. Have steamed rice milk, nut milk or soy milk with a dash of nutmeg, vanilla and a sweetener of your choice. At Starbucks, go for a tea “Misto” with soy milk. Need some caffeine? Kukicha twig tea and roasted green tea make delicious yet gentle winter options. Relax with your favorite book and sip away.
4. Load up on water inside you
Since Winter represents the Water Element, take extra care in providing your body with quality, pure water frequently throughout the day. Invest in a purifying filter, to rid your water of any impurities and save the earth the carbon footprint of using plastic bottles. Squeeze a slice of lemon and add a dash of cayenne for a liver-cleansing and warming bonus!
5. Bathe in water around you
The perfect way to end a winter’s day? Immerse yourself in a hot bath filled with your favorite salts, herbs and essential oils. It will soothe your skin from the harsh weather and promote detoxification. Light a few candles and play soothing music to promote your deepest relaxation.
6. Give and receiveFeeling drained from frantic gift-shopping that feels overdone or unnecessary? Give in a different way this year and feel fulfilled rather than spent. Make a donation to your favorite charity. A few that we love: Women for Women , Kiva.org and Heifer International.
7. Reflect and set intentions
Set aside 30 minutes for yourself. Click here to open the Intention Setting Worksheet. Winter, being the menstruation phase of the year, is the perfect time for reflection and tuning into your inner wisdom. What have you accomplished in the past year? Where do you see yourself in a year from now? Don’t feel compelled to take action – just start writing and see what you come up with.
Wishing you and your families a magical holiday season!
10 Benefits of Sexual Satisfaction For Women (And Why You Might Be Missing Out)
Hormonal imbalances impact many systems in the body, but symptoms usually show up as menstrual and gynecological health concerns. Thus, it is impossible to fully address hormonal health without talking about the healthy function of the sex organs. While medicinal foods are Laughing Sage Wellness’ primary tool for healing the body, the health benefits of regular orgasm in regulating women’s hormonal systems are so great that we always check in with our clients to make sure they understand the importance of a satisfying sex life. Plus, we have a created an advanced program for clients who want to focus on creating supportive relationships, building deeper intimacy with their partners, and improving sexual vitality.
“Does sex really impact my overall health?” you ask.
It does! And here’s how:
Top Ten Health Benefits of Sexual Satisfaction for Women:
1. Improves the circulation to organs in the pelvic cavity, the delivering nutrients, the growth of healthy tissues and the regulation of your menstrual cycle. Women who have intercourse at least once a week are more likely to have normal menstrual cycles than women who are celibate or who have infrequent sex.
2. Increases fertility and sense of wellness by energizing your hypothalamus gland, which regulates appetite, body temperature, emotions, and the pituitary gland, which in turn regulates the release of reproductive hormones that induce ovulation and cervical fluid.
3. Provides overall lymphatic massage, helping your body’s natural detoxification process to improve digestion and mood and help prevent cancer.
4. Promotes healthy estrogen levels to keep vaginal tissues supple and protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.
5. Induces deep relaxation by boosting endorphin levels and flushing cortisol (an inflammatory hormone released by the adrenal glands) out of the body.
6. Spikes DHEA levels in the body. DHEA hormone improves brain function, balances the immune system, helps maintain and repair tissue, and promotes healthy skin.
7. Helps you look younger–studies show making love three times a week in a stress free relationship can make you look 10 years younger.
8. Boosts immune system up to 20%–helps fight colds and flu!
9. Cures migraines and helps treat other types of pain by elevating pain thresholds (a bonus when preparing for childbirth!)
10. Increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is linked to passion, intuition, and social skills–the hormone of bonding and success!
If you are missing out on these amazing perks, it’s time to investigate the reasons why.
Stress is a major cause of decreased libido. Added stress puts strain on our adrenals, those thumb-sized glands that sit right above our kidneys and kick in to help our body combat stress. The adrenal glands also secrete the hormones necessary to keep your libido intact. When overworked from being in a constant state of stress and alert, the last thing your body wants to do is have sex or procreate.
Aside from low libido, here are some other signs that you might be suffering with adrenal exhaustion:
- difficulty waking up in the morning
- insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
- relying on caffeine and/or sweets to keep you going
- getting sick easily, low immunity
Sound like you?
If so, you’ll want to be taking extra good care of yourself this summer to de-stress and recharge your tired adrenals. It’s important to make sure you’re supporting your body with the proper medicinal foods and supplements. Ensure you are getting the proper guidance and support.
Top Photo: Flickr
Soaring The Skies? 4 Tips To Keep You Healthy (And Less Stressed!)
A big day is coming up, and, if you are going to be flying the friendly skies, we’ve got a few tips to keep the healthy going when sky high! When taking any trip, planning is essential and keeping a few things in mind before heading out could save you a lot of headaches. Here are 4 simple tips to help you plan a safer and healthier travel experience.
#1: Seize your Seat
Take the time to book the best seat available. Are you flying in first or coach? No matter, because sites like seatguru.com can help you to determine where you will be most comfortable in either cabin. It could be that the seat in row 32 is a tad narrow due to the wing of the plane, that seat 10B is right next to the lavatories or that 17C has limited legroom. Finding and booking the most comfortable option in your price bracket can give you the assurance that once you board, you can relax and sleep comfortably if flight time allows. Even a short nap has been shown to improve cognitive function.
#2: Dine by Design
Do you follow a low carbohydrate, gluten free, vegetarian, or kosher diet? Regardless of your which dietary program you follow…declare it to the airline. Don’t just wait to be surprised by the lack of appropriate foods that arrive to you tray table. Indicate your food preference when booking the ticket. After all, you are more likely to cheat on a diet and binge on a sugary snack at the airport during a layover if you missed eating a meal on your first flight because it didn’t fit into your nutritional parameters. You may also want to consider packing a protein bar, or piece of fruit. After all, even the best-laid plans can often go awry.
#3: Stop Stress
Maybe your alarm didn’t go off, your boss called you on the cell phone just as you were heading out the door, or the line at Starbucks was longer than you had expected. Don’t stress out. Plan to give yourself an extra hour to get to your flight. Leaving the city can be quite a challenge, and planning for life’s little unexpected hassles is a must. Stress robs your body of essential B vitamins. A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that when a subject’s levels of thiamine, a B vitamin, was just ½ that of the daily requirement, the subject became, “irritable, depressed, quarrelsome, uncooperative, and fearful that some misfortune awaited them.” Travel days are difficult enough, especially with the heightened security at the airports. Feeling any of those emotions would only make matters worse. Take the time to arrive early and stave off the stress.
#4: Nourish with Nutrients
We have to consider more than just the stressed B vitamins when traveling. Consider the number of hands that have held the airport escalator railing. Imagine the hundreds of people who have put their shoes soles facing down in the plastic security bin you might be using. Think about the small child who spit up her bottle only yesterday in the seat you might be sitting in today. People carry illness, and airplanes carry people. The air that is re-circulated can be stale and unhealthy. It is wise to take precautions to increase immunity, such as boosting antioxidant levels with a good multivitamin. Antioxidants, such as A, C, E, Alpha Lipoic acid, CoQ10, Grape Seed Extract and Quercetin, can keep you healthy by neutralizing free radicals. Hold back a head cold by keeping your nutrient levels lofty. Remember, better safe than sneezy.
You’re now ready to board that plane and be assured of a healthy start to your upcoming trip. Hey, what seat are you in? Maybe you’ll be seated next to us… you never know. Happy Flying!
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
Om…BRRR : Cold Weather Yoga Gear & Tips For Your Winter Practice
Yes, it’s officially freezing in NYC, and with dropping temps outside, comes bundling up to get to class (not to mention sometimes chillier studios!). With that in mind, we decided to assemble our favorite products to help keep us warm while getting our OM on (or our OM to class!).
Leg Warmers: Why have leg warmers not made a huge comeback since the 80’s? These things are fantastic. Add a layer of warmth to your yoga pants for the walk, and easily peel off when you start warming up in that second sun salutation. We LOVE these knee high warmers from ToeSox, or for full fledged freezing, look for a thigh high leg warmer!
Yoga Socks: when your feet still need a thaw out and you’re not quite ready to hit the mat barefoot, yoga socks are the perfect answer. Get comfort and warmth without losing any grip with these lovelies from Gaiam.
Lined or heavier Yoga Pants: For chillier temps or if you’re like me and are sporting your yoga gear around town daily, there are some great fleece lined or cold weather yoga pants. Also, don’t be afraid to try some pants that might cross over and be listed as outdoor running or jogging tights. Many are versatile enough to use in your practice. Heavier capris or calf length yoga pants are also out there. If you’re laying up or looking to combine a pair with those leg warmers, try these by Dear Kate. They’re well constructed and a little thicker than your average yoga pant. Also, they’re innovative design allows you to lose one intimate layer, and not have to worry about panty lines of any sort!
Layered Harem Pants: Looking to wear calf length yoga pants or still not warm enough walking to class in your normal yoga gear? Try layering up. We love these Harem 3/4 Ruched Legging by Gaiam. They’re stylish and loose enough to layer over your favorite yoga legging.
Fleece Lined Layering Jackets: A zip up in the perfect way to stay warm on the walk over. I am obsessed with this super warm Calvin Klein Hoodie that I picked up earlier this year at TJ Maxx, and literally wear it almost every cold day. We also love this one from Mondetta with it’s stylish look and warm hoodie. Both can be comfortably worn under jackets and easily zipped off during class. Plus, Mondetta has great sales going on right now AND gives back a percentage to charity. Get shopping and stay warm!
Winter Yoga Tips: Ready to get your OM on now? Check out these great winter tips from Gaiam. Including 5 Poses that are perfect for Winter.
Get Your Down Dog On For the Elephants: Free Yoga At The Bronx Zoo
Another great Yoga Journal event is coming to NYC. They’re teaming up with the 96 Elephants Campaign and invite you to the first-ever Yogis for Ellies event!
Mark your calendars for Friday, September 23, from 4-7 p.m. at the Bronx Zoo. The event will feature free yoga classes with Tao Porchon-Lynch, Kristin McGee, and Bethany Lyons in honor of the 96 elephants who are lost every day.
Join us and help raise awareness and support for elephants through yoga. This free event will include open Bronx Zoo animal exhibits such as Madagascar!, Zoo Center, and the Sea Lion Pool (with a special feeding!).
If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll come and invite your friends to join too! Free admission and parking will be provided, and complimentary snacks and refreshments will be served. Be sure to BYO yoga mat!
Together, at this first Yogis for Ellies event with our friends at the 96 Elephants Campaign, we hope to honor the 96 elephants who are killed every day for their ivory.
Thank you for making your practice count.
5 Steps To De Stress
The numerous demands and expectations of our everyday lives can leave many of us feeling overwhelmed and “stressed out”. While this may not seem like such a big deal, the truth is, stress can take a serious toll on your health. Stressful emotions trigger the release of harmful chemicals like cortisol that can wreak havoc on nearly every aspect of our well-being. A study done by Carnegie Mellon University found that stress contributes to a range of diseases including heart disease and depression. Stress has been found to not only increase the likelihood of illness, but also death from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Stress has been linked to obesity, hair loss, ulcers, diabetes and infertility.
The good news is there are ways to effectively manage your stress , or de-stress, which are easy to implement!
5 Quick and Easy Ways to De-Stress
1. Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you going. Excess coffee overloads your liver, dehydrates you and increases your risk of dips in energy. Enjoy your morning cup and switch to more hydrating and replenishing beverages in the afternoon, like coconut water or regular water. You can also try herbal coffee (teeccino brand) and herbal teas.
2. Maintain your exercise routine as best you can. When we’re busy and our body is under stress, our adrenal glands need nourishment, not added strain and stress. For example, if you’re used to exercising twice a week, I suggest sticking to your regular routine the best you can (even if you can only do 20 minutes of exercise). You will be surprised at how much more energy and positivity you’ll have at work, family events or with your daily responsibilities when you give your body what it needs and what it’s used to.
3. Make sure you eat your vegetables, especially greens. Don’t worry if there isn’t a spare moment to cook during hectic times. Blend your greens in a delicious and sweet tasting smoothie. Blending takes less time and you can blend your greens for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whole foods, especially greens, are the key to stamina and good health.
4. Don’t worry if you can’t always make a home-cooked meal. We don’t always have the time to make our own meals when things are busy, which I prefer to do. What’s the next best thing? Buy pre-washed organic salad mixes, cut-up fruit and vegetables and take out healthy options from a natural food store.
5. Meditate and calm your mind. When our minds are telling us to do more, we need to stop and take a moment (five minutes is enough) and do less, even if we have the urge to plow ahead. This can be hard for most, myself included! Meditation helps bring us more balance, so we feel much more centered and don’t get bothered by the little things. Any time we quiet our minds from the constant cycle of thinking, it is meditation!
Cupping: What the craze is really all about.
The therapy, which has been around for thousands of years, uses cups to mobilize blood flow, treat pain and muscle stiffness and promote the healing of many ailments.
One of our practitioners, Heidi Gerber, a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist who a performs cupping at Tournesol, recently talked to Cosmopolitan.com about the treatment and its benefits.
Heidi says cupping “allows the therapist to go where fingers can’t reach.” She adds that it “brings blood flow to the area to loosen muscles and increase your range of motion to help an individual perform better.”
If you’ve ever had a deep massage, Heidi says cupping is a “breeze” compared to that sensation.
To learn more about this new “it” treatment, click here to read the Cosmopolitan.com article and then make an appointment at Tournesol to give it a try!